Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said on Thursday that the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has no limitations in his war against the firing of homemade shells, from the Gaza Strip, against Israeli targets.
Olmert added that Sharon has a freehand to act in the Gaza Strip, and that the disengagement from Gaza has increased the military response and flexibility, after the settlers left.
“Sharon has no limitations, no one is stopping him, and no one is blocking him”, Olmert stated, “He is not afraid of ‘what they will say.’ We’re doing what is right every moment in order to reduce the attacks acts as much as possible”.
An Israeli military source stated that soldiers shelled six Palestinian areas which are claimed to be used as launching pads for homemade shells. Yet the source added that Qassam fire is unlikely to stop.
The source reported that the military fear that even if Qassam launching pads are pushed back beyond the buffer zone, they will still be able to reach and hit Israeli targets, but will unlikely be able to reach Ashkelon, especially since the resistance is using the ruins of the settlements as launching pads.
“There is nothing which can totally stop the shells”, Olmert told the Israeli Radio, “But we can reduce them, the shells will stop only if those who fire them decide to stop”.
Also, the source added that the military is facing trouble when it comes to deterring Islamic Jihad fighters from firing at Israeli targets. “Unlike Hamas, the Jihad does not have the habit of considering the consequences of its attacks”, the source elaborated.
Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that Olmert while responding to contentions that Sharon refrained from a ground assault into Gaza because that would represent an admission that his disengagement was an error, Olmert said that these arguments are baseless because the resistance always fired shells while the army was still there.
“When we were deep in Gaza, there was firing of homemade shells and attacks”, Olmert added, “We couldn’t carry out operations like Blue Skies because the settlers were the heart of the Arab population”.
Israel declared the area off-limits earlier on Wednesday, in what the army described as a bid to stem cross-border rocket salvoes. Israeli artillery has since fired at least 12 shells in since then.
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, slammed the military escalation and the continuous Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, and added that Israel has left the Gaza Strip after occupying it for 38 years, and does not have the right to reoccupy it.